Monday, February 28, 2011

Refutation of Naturopathy's 'Fever Suppression is Harmful' Myth -- AAP 2011 vs. ND Speidel 1996 & Currently:

here, I cite from a recent American Academy of Pediatrics report about childhood fevers [see 001., below]; and then from an old-standby of naturopathic thought [ah-ha-ha-ha] regarding fevers, still up on-line to this day [see 002., below]; then, I wonder if naturopathy will update its contents to reflect this new scientific knowledge, as it doesn't at its core [see 003., below]:

001. the AP reports in "Doctors: Parents Shouldn't Fret Over Kids' Fevers" [saved 2011-02-28, day of release][my comments are in bold]:

"fever phobia is rampant among parents of young children, according to a myth-busting American Academy of Pediatrics report [AAP...] released online Monday in the journal Pediatrics [...] that advises against treatment every time a kid's temperature inches up [...] kids' fevers are [usually] caused by viruses and they will go away without medicine and without causing any damage [usually...]";

Which is a good thing as there are so few specific antivirals!  Now, NDs have advised for decades not to interfere with a fever, for ideological reasons.  They've claimed such interference is harmful, specifically "suppressive" in the vitalistic sense, but...

"there is no hard proof that untreated fevers lead to seizures or brain damage; there's also no evidence that lowering fevers reduces illness, according to the report which focused on children older than 3 months [...]";

I also read this to mean that there's no evidence that lowering fevers kept children sicker longer or got them better quicker, or got them sicker more often. If they were comparing illness and treatment and duration, something like that would have hopefully been noticed [I'll likely read the study later this week, and append this post as necessary].  Ironically, I've had a flu all weekend.

"there's no harm in treating a true fever with over-the-counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen. And it makes sense to do so when the child is obviously feeling ill. But the No. 1 reason to use fever-reducing medicine is to make a sick child feel more comfortable [palliation...]";

Again, no talk of a trade-off of palliation vs. harm.

"[the report] emphasizes that a fever is not an illness but rather a mechanism that helps fight infection. Fevers can slow the growth of viruses and bacteria, and enhance production of important immune-system cells [...]";

Naturopaths like to say that fevers are symptoms [that's CCNM's ND Gonen] that should not be suppressed.  But, they miss the point: a symptom is subjective, a fever is measurable and therefore a sign / physiological alteration.  The link speaks of putting wet socks on children while they sleep, for their fevers.  How pointlessly unpleasant! And again, I see no warning from the AAP here that pharmacologically lowering fever PROLONGS an illness or increases occurrence.  In terms of immunity, I would think that once the immune system deals with the infection, which may be in terms of time somewhat sped up with some elevated temperature as many metabolic processes are, in a healthy individual it doesn't matter if fever was reduced pharmacologically or not.

"parents should pay attention to other symptoms of illness, such as whether the child is unusually cranky, lethargic, or not drinking liquids and avoiding food [are these signs or symptoms?  They sound like signs]. Those are often better measures of how sick a child is and whether medical attention should be sought, the authors said [...] Dr. Margaret Scotellaro, a pediatrician at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said the report 'is right on [...] some [parents] feel that an illness changes from being something insignificant to something serious as soon as the temperature rises, which is  really not true' [...] the report will help her  relay that message";

Ah, truly educating the patient and parent about what's true.

"[but this general knowledge comes with some caveats] children with special medical needs [...] should be seen by a doctor when their temperatures are mildly elevated [...and] children with heat stroke [...and] infants younger than 3 months."

Nothing is SIMPLE in reality, unlike ideologies / cultic views that screen the world previous to evidence. 

002. Morton and Morton write in "Five Steps to Selecting the Best Alternative Medicine" (ISBN 1880032945; 1996) [neither are NDs / NMDs, by the way]:

"Dr. Stephen Speidel, an N.D. [Bastyr 1983, still in practice in Washington State, possibly...] says 'a good example of how we in naturopathic medicine use the healing force in the body [coded vitalism] is what we do or don't do when a child has a fever.  Often times a fever is a way that the body rids itself of a bacteria that only grows in certain temperatures [...] if you take the [...] aspirin or Tylenol [...] it's like taking a sledge hammer to your child's immune system [coded vitalism...] your child will stay sick longer' [p.202...]";

So, there are problems here.  There's that coded vitalism -- naturopathy's mythic premise that-dare-not-speak-its-name.  The actual pediatricians point out that most childhood fevers are viral infections, not the gooey, puss-creating bacterial type of infection that antibiotics may be used to treat. Bacteria's often have a WIDE growth temperature, not such a narrow one ranging from normal body temperature to fever-level temperature.  And there's the 'big scare' of immediate immune harm and an increase duration of illness.

Now, I admit, this is old stuff but, it is also currently up on the web.  I've doubts it will be updated!  It's canon for naturopathy.

The immune system, I'd argue, is also coding for that science-ejected vitalistic concept at the core of naturopathy.  As the Oregon Board of Naturopathic Medicine states in "Naturopathy":

"homeopathic medicine [...] works on a subtle yet powerful electromagnetic level [never scientifically supported, by the way; coded vitalism], gently acting to strengthen the body’s healing and immune response [coded vitalism...and naturopathy's] methods of  treatments are chosen to work with the patient’s vital force [overall]."

Ah, so simple once you go to the '.gov' Rosetta Stone aka OBNM! Of course, an immune system is measurable by hematology and serology, and homeopathy doesn't alter those parameters!  Of course, electromagnetism is hugely measurable and no such changes are found via homeopathy.  While a vital force is a figment / myth, and therein...I think what we know what they're really getting at.

I can imagine the spin.  Naturopaths saying "we were right all along" and therefore you mustn't injure your vital force with fever suppression.  In other words: a little bit of scientific truth, then ramped up to falsely support a sectarian overblown / unsupported claim.

Morton and Morton also write, on that same paper page [which is also still online]:

"N.D.'s and M.D.'s [grammatically incorrect, no apostrophes needed] have some areas of common ground, namely their education.  M.D.'s are schooled in basic sciences and clinical sciences to prepare them for the various illnesses and emergencies they will face during their practice.  N.D.'s are also well trained in all these sciences in their education."

Ah, but as I've said over and over again: some science then with a sectarian ideology / belief system placed upon it all, creating a kind of knowledge muddle that, as OBNM illustrates, falsely labels as science the actually science-ejected.  Perhaps the new ICD-10 needs a code for the disorder "thinking naturopathic-style".  Even in 1996, naturopathy's true core was the vitalistic science-ejected and the supernatural science-exterior -- falsely labeled science.

003. shall there be an update to all this from naturopathyland?

I'd bet NOTHING on that.  After all, their primary vitalistic premise has been science-ejected for more than 100 years, and claims of supernaturalism is science for a few hundred years.  If anything, I'll bet science and the public will continue to be abused.

***Addendum

the full report is here.
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